Clark County lacks lifeguards for Klineline Pond

No qualified people have come forward to start work by July 1

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

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Clark County found the money to pay for lifeguards at Klineline Pond in Salmon Creek Regional Park this summer, but now it can't find qualified folks to fill the positions.

Clark County commissioners came to an accord in May to pay $120,000 per year to hire 10 lifeguards at the pond between July 1 and Labor Day.

But the county won't be ready to staff guards come July. Public Works Director Pete Capell told commissioners Wednesday that only one candidate has come forward for the position, and the individual isn't yet certified to guard open water.

The county believes it can expand its search to find additional candidates, and intends to offer open water courses to help individuals get certified to watch over the local swimming hole.

But that will take more time, and Capell said they won't be ready by July 1.

The delay means the county will stay with its status quo since 2010, when lifeguards were cut to balance an austere budget.

In May, first-term Commissioner David Madore broached the subject of the missing guards, and eventually had Commissioners Tom Mielke and Steve Stuart in agreement that something should be done to protect swimmers at the park.

To spare the general fund, the annual cost of lifeguards is to be paid by the county's metropolitan park district.

"It's the most proactive thing we can do to protect life," Madore said at the time of the discussion.

The most recent death at Klineline occurred last August, when a 13-year-old boy was pulled from the water and later declared dead at a hospital.

The county is reminding people to use its life jacket loan program at the pond in the interim. The program makes jackets of different sizes available for free.

The county is posting the lifeguard jobs on its website: http://www.clark.wa.gov/hr/employment/job-openings.html

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov ; erik.hidle@columbian.com.